Emerge Magazine 2017
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Photo by Samantha Mitchell/ EMERGE

All or Nothing: a social media dilemma

Of the Internet’s 3.17 billion users, 2.3 billion are active on social media, according to Brandwatch, a demographics service.

That means, more than half of the world’s internet users are active on one or more social media platform. And with social media playing such a dominant role in in today’s culture, some people have decided to swap their phones for face-to-face interaction.

Sajan Siva and Chelsey Bothelo are both in their early 20s, work at the same restaurant and live in the city of Brampton, Ont. And although they are very similar in many ways, there is one thing that sets them apart: Bothelo is active on social media, and Siva is not.

Siva works as a chef and spends most of his free time with family and friends. He said he prefers communicating face-to-face because of the personal interaction.

Siva added that one of his greatest concerns about social media is the lack of impact the messages have on the reader. He also added that he believes words and communication are much more meaningful in person.

“I enjoy life without social media because I personally have learned to not trust people,” he said. “It’s like the real you being photoshopped and sent out.”

According to a series of research statistics conducted by Environics Analytics, a premier Canadian marketing company, millennials use social media platforms more than any other age group. According to their research, 73 per cent of Canadian millennials use social media daily.

Siva said most young people are usually surprised when he tells them he’s not on social media, but he stands his ground. “I don’t need an online network that builds my worth,” he said.

Siva is a hobby photographer, but he said he doesn’t share any of his photos over social media. “If you do photography, it always has to be your own art,” he said. “People interpret it in different ways, but social media could never explain why you took that photo.”

Bothelo on the other hand, said social media plays a vital role in her daily life. According to Bothelo, the platforms she uses most frequently are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr.

“It [Tumblr] lets people be individuals. It lets people have their own platform and make it their own. They make their page look like how they want to be perceived,” said Bothelo.

Analytics compiled by Global Media Insight show that Bothelo falls under Tumblr’s second highest demographic (ages 18 to 24), making up 23.3 per cent of users.

Bothelo is currently studying acting at the Toronto Film School, and she said Tumblr is a great match for her creative personality. “Tumblr also invites a lot of people who are eccentric and artists, and I like that aspect,” she said.

Bothelo admits she uses social media daily in order to stay up to date with the lives of people that matter to her. “I go on it every day,” she said. “But I only do it to check other people’s news feeds and pictures.”

And while she said she occasionally sees social media as a distraction, she also notes that social media can also be helpful. “If you’re going on there and trying to branch out and reach people in some way or another, then that’s beneficial,” she said.

“I prefer Facebook for keeping up with my friends and family. It’s just easy. Life’s hard already, there’s so much to do in life and media outlets make it easier to talk to family that’s across the world,” said Bothelo.

Apart from her personal use, Bothelo adds that social media is also commonly used as a tool to communicate professionally at school and with her co-workers. “It’s almost crucial,” she said. “It’s like mandatory nowadays. It goes hand in hand with most jobs.”

With two conflicting views on social media, both Siva and Bothelo are impacted by social media in one way or another. And although Siva chooses to opt out of the network, he affirms he’s happy with the way he leads his life.

“I’m true to whatever I do,” he said. “That’s why I don’t believe in social media.”

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Kristina Ramcharran

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Kristina lives her life a quarter page at a time. And when she’s not writing, she’s usually just eating. Car shows and concerts are her weaknesses.

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